VC received ‘classified’ instructions to demolish monument
By Sulochana Ramiah Mohan
Jaffna University Vice Chancellor, Prof. S. Srisatkunarajah said, the war memorial, which was demolished,would be rebuilt and laid two foundation stones in this regard. The foundation stones were laid yesterday (11).
With the laying of the foundation stones, undergraduates who staged a hunger strike against the demolition called it off. Early yesterday morning,the Vice Chancellor visited the protesting undergraduates at the university premises and offered them porridge urging them to call off the strike.
Meanwhile, a 12-hour hartal was declared by the Jaffna Students’ Union, which commenced at 6a.m. following which commercial activities in Jaffna and Batticaloa came to a halt. The hartal ended at 6p.m.
The Vice Chancellor told Ceylon Today he received a‘classified’document demanding the demolition of the war memorial built in the university premises and could not disclose anything beyond that.
Former Vice Chancellors were also ordered to demolish the structure but they did not carry out that order, he added.
“It’s a classified document and I will not divulge from where the order came, however, now I have got permission to allow the reconstruction of the monument and we have already laid the foundation stones.
He also noted he informed the University Grant Commission (UGC) the Government wanted him to rebuild the monument.
According to a video circulated on social media, the Vice Chancellor was seen speaking to Police Officers stationed inside the campus since the night of 8 January.
“They are my students and I cannot let them continue on a hunger strike,” he told the Police Officers.
“I wrote to the UGC about the incident because even people in Tamil Nadu were protesting over the demolition of the monument,” he was seen telling Police Officials.
“We have to heed to the students’ demand and the sentiments the monument holds,”he said, speaking to Ceylon Today.
“I am permitting this monument to be rebuilt but I have nothing to say about the hartal,”he added. I ceremonially laid the two foundation stones with the student body, he said.
Lawyer K. Suhas said the Jaffna University was not just a University in Jaffna; it’s an asset of the Tamil people and is seen as an identity of the Tamil people of the North and East.
SLPP MP Angajan Ramanthan told Ceylon Today they were not aware that the monument was demolished.
“Had we known, we would have stopped it as it has sentimental value for the people of Jaffna,” he added.
The hartal call in the East was ineffective, as many of the commercial areas in the Batticaloa District are in lockdown due to the growing number of COVID cases. Schools and the university are already closed whereas State enterprises were operating as usual yesterday (11).
(Pic by T. Pratheepan Jaffna Correspondent)